If you are looking for a moving career that provides a public service and the opportunity to travel (sort of), public transit might be your ticket.
"We have openings for transit planners and bus drivers," affirms Llew Keller, senior human resources analyst with AC Transit in Oakland. "We are technically in a hiring freeze but are looking for people to replace drivers who are leaving."
He says applicants must be at least 21 years old and have a clean driving record for the past five years, but no bus driving experience is required. The company has an eight-week training course. The basic hourly starting pay for a bus driver is $14.05 and can reach $20 after 2« years. Keller says that amount goes up annually.
"It's a good union job, and new hires get complete customer skills training," he remarks. "People don't usually get into this career unless they have good people skills."
He advises interested candidates to send a resume or call the job hotline (510)891-4782 for openings. Applications and forms also are available online at Actransit.org.
Keller says there are also many opportunities for advancement. "The company is very good about moving people up through the ranks.
The hiring picture is optimistic at San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) on the Peninsula. It operates and provides rail (Caltrain) and bus service throughout the county and to downtown San Francisco. SamTrans has 750 employees.
Rose Whitelock, SamTrans human relations manager, reports there are openings for a senior accountant, real estate officer and customer relations specialist who deals with outreach and services. At this time the company is not recruiting for drivers and mechanics.
"We have six positions open now and another group will open in several weeks," she says. "The number of candidates applying for positions is larger than it was six months ago and I think it has to do with economy."
The chilly economy is also impacting other services by the Bay.
Blue & Gold Layoffs
"The slow economy hit us hard and at this time we're in a layoff period," explains Carl Friedrich, manager of marine operations with the San Francisco-based Blue and Gold Fleet ferry service. "We started seeing a slowdown about a year ago and after the terrorist events of Sept. 11, it became more dramatic."
He said the company, which provides commuter ferry service from Alameda/Oakland to San Francisco and San Francisco to Vallejo and Tiburon, is a mix of public transit and tourism. With fewer visitors coming to San Francisco, the fleet experienced a sharp decline in ridership, especially in the midday, non-commute hours.
Commute traffic is also down. Friedrich points to the probable domino effect of the dot-com failures. "A good many people lost their jobs in that sector and they are no longer commuting to the city."
He does sound hopeful about the coming months. "We are somewhat seasonal and look to increase our work-force - vessel crews, maintenance personnel, ticketing and box office - around now and April if the public's travel confidence comes back," he notes. "We're cautiously optimistic and I hear from many of the city's hotels that conferences are beginning to rebook."
Representatives at the Bay Area Rapid Transit headquarters in Oakland agree.
If Not BART, Try Muni
According to the human resources department, BART has tightened its belt and put hiring on hold for now. However, jobseekers can fill out applications for various positions that range from construction engineers, electricians and repair shop technicians to police officers. Qualified candidates will be pulled from that pool.
Muni (San Francisco Municipal Railway), employing almost 4000 people, provides service on diesel buses and trolleys, streetcars and the city's world-famous cable cars.
"We're always hiring for operators," states human resources manager Michael Lum. "We're unique because we are part of both the city and county therefore some hiring is done through the city."
He says Muni employs a wide range of workers - mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, machinists, electricians, administrators, accountants, bookkeepers, engineers, custodians, car cleaners, power house operators, people who work on the track system, as well a computer and signal engineers.
Those interested in a transit operator position must be at least 25 years old with a clean driving record for the past three years and no convictions within seven years for any drug or sex-related offenses. Muni issues job announcements that spell out the application timeline.
"Being an operator is not for everybody," he contends. "But those with patience, skill and understanding are given unparalleled opportunities for a good income, financial freedom and an opportunity to move up."
Job openings, applications and information are available at sfmuni.com or ci.sf.ca.us/dhr, or by calling (415)554-4166.
Sacramento RT Hiring
The Sacramento Regional Transit District operates bus and light rail routes with a ridership of 26 million. "We are hiring now," reports Jacqueline Williams, claims risk manager with RT's human resources department. "Most of our positions require applicants to be 21 years old and have a driver's license but no bus driving experience is required for drivers or mechanics."
She says there are also upper level management, marketing and engineering jobs that require a bachelor's degree or equivalent. Random drug testing is required for all safety sensitive positions.
Jobseekers can check out the employment openings on the RT website (sacrt.com) or call the job hotline at (916)321-3806.
"There are definitely career opportunities," Williams declares. "The training is very thorough and the benefits are excellent."
More information about transit careers can be found at:
- TransitInfo.org — Information and links to the web pages of transit agencies throughout the nine county Bay Area (also has links to Sacramento and San Joaquin county transit districts). Many of those websites post employment opportunities.
- PublicTransitJobs.com — Job search engine for public transit jobs.